My Last FIRE Post

I think that it’s become increasingly obvious that FIRE in its many forms is not quite for me. So this is the death of FIRE – extinguishing the flames of hope from my wallet and my heart.

As much as there’s been an explosion of interest in what is called FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early), it remains something that is inherently undesirable in itself and unless backed by a rigorous framework of activities, interests and action. And you can’t spell framework without “work”.

More to the point, I’ve been “between projects” for last few weeks. On the face of it, with the record haul of wealth pthat we’ve accumulated and our current and predicted outgoings we are financially independent. That’s a great relief. It also meant that I was in the unusual position of not needing to be motivated by money. So, any endeavours in the future need not have money as a deciding factor.

Oh, we FIers are so superior to the money driven wage slaves – we’ve weaned ourselves off the addiction to monetary renumeration and have elevated ourselves above the rabble of the rat race. But does it make you happy? I am not the only one thinking this as well.

But back to the point – being “between projects” very much felt like I was going to be permanently unemployed and whilst my CV doesn’t look too bad and I have experience; where I live and my family commitments limit my options and my experience (un)fairly pigeonholes me into a career that is in its death throes. The company I was contracting with since March told me to not expect any work until January and I felt that I would be out of work permanently – for good.

Retrain? With my Brain?

I considered doing a masters in a field relevant to what I had done in the past and with prospects for the future. Part time of course to sit along side looking after the kids and being idle. Would my brain be able to learn again? Am I passed it? I’ll never know because I didn’t sign up.

The Last Hope

Then last week, at a team meeting that I joined, the excited news was that the project that was postponed from July until 2021 was to go ahead forthwith. It came as a bit of a shock to me because I was not expecting to get anymore work – but as of next week I’ll be working full time again. The work (which I don’t go into too much detail about) is a step forward for me experience wise – a good foundation for the future.

Financial Independence?

What it means is 6 months of steady work and that’ll mean we move from being just about FI to being what I would call “work optional”. If I get no more work next summer – no worries. But it won’t be borderline as it is now. I’ll probably try opting for 30-40 hours a week and it’s mostly WFH – which is ace! That’s one thing that I really wanted, as commuting is rubbish (makes you fat, unhealthy and poor) and I like it at home.

Retire Early?

I think that the prospect of never earning money ever again is a stupid idea and I’ve always said so. But, it’s clear to me that I would not want to be unintentionally retired – or as it’s known “redundant”. Redundant and redundancy is a terrible term, meaning that you are just not useful at all. And as someone who gets a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine viewing, every body wants to be a really useful engine. Otherwise, you are just a waste of space.

I was terrified of never being of use ever again. That’s the truth – terrified that I could not do anything useful. I’d probably need to develop myself, change, grow, mature… but it’s sad to think that around 20 years ago I started down a path of being an engineer and after all that, my skills, training and experience would be worthless.

Has the FIRE gone out?

My view of Financial Independence is that by having money you can give yourself some level of freedom from having to chase after every penny just to get by. We have that now in our lives. But with independence comes personal responsibility – you have to be accountable for your own time and actions. In my time off, I didn’t really do that much if I’m honest. Some DIY, some reading and exercise. But I’ve chosen the path of a family man and that means that all the Independence in the world means that you are only free between nine and three – because when you have to pick the kids up, cook dinner, hoover, tidy-up, do the big shop, load a wash, read a book and try to get round to do that thing that you’ll get to at some point – freedom is the freedom to choose how you spend your life and with whom.

Thanks for reading this far, I’ll keep posting and maybe I’ll express myself better in those posts. I don’t know if I could change how I live my  life now that we are “enough and then some” and I’m very happy overall with how things have turned out.

This is not a goodbye to FIRE in totality. But it is very much an option that I am not willing to take right now. I have it as an option for when I want to or need to in the future but I’ll be glad to get back to work and as Finumus puts it, have “new energy and meaning”. Then again, show me someone who has stopped all work altogether and I’ll show you someone who’s pulling in more from their side hustles than they know what to do with.

Thanks, GFF

14 comments

  1. Many people get their value and a sense of value from work and I think that’s something the FI/RE movement ignores. Within the movement there is also absolutely no mention of how to give your life meaning after retirement – it is just assumed that you’ll be happy because you no longer have to work for the man.

    Maybe it’s because FI/RE was born in the US, where there is a very high perceived level of social mobility, and there is a feeling that if you only worked really hard then you will be rewarded. This has led to the abandonment of true leisure and finding meaning outside of work. Although work can often be meaningful, this is ignored on the large part.

    It sounds like you’ll be just fine without being part of the FI/RE identity and I’m right there with you. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks.
      I think that the push away from being broke and insecure doesn’t work when you escape the orbit of being a wage slave. At some point you need to realise that you are not getting away but going somewhere – and you are in control.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Firstly, that’s great news about the project starting early!

        I see some similarities with your post and Finumus’ with regards to the end of the FIRE dream – neither of you want to be house husbands and lockdown isn’t great for FIRE, not when you can’t do what you want with your freedom from the 9-5.

        Life of a family man does not always gel with FIRE, particularly if the missus is still working, and probably not til the kids are a lot older. Another ten years maybe when the bairns aren’t so dependent, you’ll be older and wiser and perhaps it might be time to pick up the FIRE aims again?

        Also, is it more of a male thing to be fearful of lack of status and being redundant? I think I’m actually looking forward to having my occupation as ‘lady of leisure’!

        Liked by 1 person

      • One thing that i didn’t really mention is that the kids are at nursery 4 days a week (5 going forward( so the duties of a house husband are not too bad and having more time to myself was a blessing.

        Like

  2. Hey. Nope, wasn’t too surprised to read this one. I’m glad things have worked out the way you want them to for you.

    Personally, I never got much sense of usefulness from working – I was very aware that whilst my career was very well-paid, it was not work that I felt contributed anything useful to society. So the company wanted me sure, but I didn’t particularly need to feel needed by them! I guess that’s why I feel I’m now contributing way more post-FIRE than I ever did working. I suspect pulling the trigger with a large contingency above normal FIRE levels also helps me as even in these volatile times it’s not been especially stressful. And no, I don’t have a lucrative side-hustle. I think you’ve cornered that market right 😉

    What matters most is understanding your life needs to work for you – not for any movement, sets of “rules” or other society constraints. So good for you on working out what works for you now and going after it.

    Cheers

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, one risk of FIRE thinking is that your event horizon is only as far as your FI number.
      However the happiest people in life have a passion that they follow – hopefully I get some of that in the new project (it’s a bit of future proofing for my career as well).
      And the biggest reason to jettison the job was to avoid commuting and working from home is a vast improvement.

      Like

  3. I used to like commuting. About a mile and a half on my bike, or two miles if I took the scenic route home.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s